Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE! reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

Remembering Maya Angelou Calligraphy Exhibit by Sally Penley in Olympia, Washington

Last Saturday I was in Portland and decided to drive up to Olympia, Washington to see Sally Penley’s calligraphy exhibit Remembering Maya Angelou, Windows to her Wisdom. This is Sally’s tribute to an amazing and inspirational woman.

The exhibit will be up through November 30, 2014.

I’ve known Sally for years. She’s an amazing calligrapher as you can see from the photos below. I love Sally’s work and have one of her pieces in my home.

On what’s inside . . .

Sally painted the backgrounds, then calligraphed the quotes. She then mounted most of the quotes in repurposed window frames, or mullions.

Close up showing an individual frame.

Sally’s show is at The Loft Gallery, on the second floor at Buck’s 5th Avenue, 509 5th Avenue SE, Olympia Washington. It’s up through the month of November, 2014.

On love . . .

I saw some of Sally’s photos of her work before I went to see her show. All I can say it that seeing all the work in a single room is so much more powerful than seeing photos of her show. If you possibly can, I urge anyone who can visit this show to do so. It is so inspiring.

On diversity . . .

This is truly an inspiring tribute to one incredible woman. Thank you, Sally for creating such a memorable and moving exhibit.

I’ve learned . . .

I was at a calligraphy retreat with Sally this past summer and was privileged to watch as she started making the backgrounds for these pieces. Sally made paste paper in quite a different way than I do. I love that there are so many different ways to use the same medium. A friend once told to me, “if you’re not careful, you’ll learn something new every day.” So true.

One of my favorite quotes from the exhibit.

Sally has a website on Fine Art America where she has other calligraphy that she had made. Visit Sally Penley’s site here.

Enjoy, Candy

Studio Snapshot

Usually I work from the studio in my home. Sometimes I work at my studio in the Ashland Art Center. Occasionally, as this past week when I was traveling, I take my studio with me. So I thought I’d share what I took with me on my latest 4 day trip to Portland.

These are the art supplies I took with me on my latest trip. They fit nicely into a small bag.

I traveled by car and stayed with a friend. I knew I’d have 2 to 3 hours a day available for art. I had to decide what would pack well and not make too much of a mess at my friend’s house or in my car.

I am just practicing here. When traveling I take my cartridge brush pen and my cartridge parallel pens.

I try and practice calligraphy daily. I don’t always manage to practice for as long as I would like, but I do try to do some calligraphy every day. For traveling, I like to take my cartridge parallel pens. With cartridges, they are not messy. I also like to take a cartridge Pentel brush pen. I don’t like to travel with dip pens and open jars of ink. I’ve had my fill of spilled ink and I certainly don’t want to have an accident while traveling.

Using a cutting mat on a clipboard, I was able to fold while riding as a passenger in the car. You can see the seat belt on the lower right hand of the photo. I am always looking for ways to sneak in a little more folding for my vessels.

Folding paper is an easy travel activity. It doesn’t take up much space and I can do it for either short or long periods of time. I just pack a clipboard, a cutting mat (I like the semi-soft surface for folding), the paper to fold and something to put the folded paper into once it has been folded.

I never know when I’m going to want to sketch something, someone, or some idea.

I never know what I might spark my interest on a trip, so I like to always pack a sketchbook. Along with the sketchbook, for this trip I took regular and watercolor pencils. Sometimes I take a travel watercolor set.

Pencils, pen, watercolor pencils, and a pad to doodle on.

Although not exactly a studio item, I always travel with a camera. My camera of choice while traveling is my iPod touch. It’s so small, it can go anywhere I go. I never know when I will see something to spark my imagination.

These are the supplies spread out at my friend’s house in Portland. They really don’t take up too much space, but allow me to take a little of my studio with me.

What art supplies do you travel with?

Happy travels, Candy



Value Studies – Why And How I Create Them

November is Value Study Month

Earlier this month, I declared November to be “Value Study” month.  And, yet, I haven’t posted many studies.   Time for me to fix this problem!  By the way, do you create value studies?


Value studies help me analyze and develop my designs.  Its like creating a visual road map prior to paint hitting the paper.  By doing this step, I am more likely to create a watercolor painting that I love.


“Coffee Break” Is the Design I’ll Be Working On

I have been working on a new drawings for my “Just Sayin’…” series of paintings.  I’m expanding to include multiple figures talking on cell phones and embracing our modern communications technology.  This is one such drawing.  I am inspired by visits to coffee shops and cafes where I see friends sitting together with cell phones engaged.  Perhaps they’re talking to each other?

What do you think, is this drawing ready to become a painting?  Sometimes I go to work just by using the first sketch.  However, I have found that it really helps if I define the shapes and do some value studies prior to beginning the painting process.

Make A Cartoon Template Then Fill Shapes

My value study process involves making a “cartoon” or line drawn template of my original drawing.  I want to turn the drawing into shapes that I can “fill” with a various grays.


Why are shapes so important?

I find that seeing and designing in shapes makes for a stronger composition.  Plus, I get my mind going and try different options.

Design Your Center Of Interest With Values

For example, with this composition, I can make either the right or left figure my center of interest.  The gestures are interesting.  In study #3 above, the left figure stands out.  In the figure below, the right figure is more dominant.  I use my light and dark patterns to direct your attention.

If you scroll through the images, you’ll see that I tend to make the left figure dominant.  It is only in study #2 that she is not the main subject.


Orchestrate Subordinate Players With Less Contrast

Once I’ve decided where my center of interest is and who is dominant, I need to design how I’d like my subordinate players to fit in.  When using the tool of value, I will reduce the contrast in middle and right figures so I can direct your attention to the left.


One thing I like about value studies is that I can get a sense of the design before I ever put brush to paper.  I still think while I paint, allowing things to flow.  But, it does help to know where you’re going.

Technical “How To” Information

If you’re new to value studies and want to try on your own designs, here is what I recommend.

  • Trace your own drawing on to tracing paper.
  • Once you have “outline” only, copy the tracing.  Make as many copies as you like.
  • With gray scale markers, felt tip pins or crayons, fill the shapes.

I often find that the first study I do is not the most creative.  I have to get the obvious solutions out of the way before I can try something inventive.

How I Created My Value Studies

  • I made an outline of my drawing using tracing paper and black fine tip markers.   I made sure the shapes were completely enclosed by a line.
  • I scanned my tracing into the computer.
  • Using a computer paint program, in this case “Corel Painter 11″, I opened the files and made copies.*
  • Then, using the bucket tool, I fill the shapes.
  • I saved each option and did another one!
  • I like to give myself at least three value studies to consider.

*Even though I use Corel Painter 11, I imagine other programs will work just fine.


This is not the only way to do a value study.  Sometimes I just play with pencil and paper.  I’d like to share a link to David Kessler’s blog article “Value Studies: The Artist’s Essential Tool”.  Here’s a different way to create studies.

Bottomline Restated

Value studies help me analyze and develop my designs.  By doing this step, I am more likely to create a watercolor painting that I love.


The post Value Studies – Why And How I Create Them appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox – Watercolor Artist.

CWA Catalog Cover

I’ve Always Wanted…

Wouldn’t it be fun to one of your paintings on the cover of an exhibition catalog?  It has been one of my secret desires to have a painting selected for use on a show catalog cover or post card.  Well, it has happened!  I am so excited and honored.  

To Be On the Catalog Cover

The California Watercolor Association (CWA) will use my painting “Just Sayin’…V8b” as their cover art for the upcoming  45th Annual National Exhibition at the Harrington Gallery Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton, CA.

Ruth, my contact with the California Watercolor Association was wondering what the “V8b” meant.  When I told her it was my numbering system for multiple paintings in a series; kinda dull don’t you think?

Would Your Rather Have A…?

You can imagine, that “V8b” conjured up images of a certain beverage, perhaps even a certain beverage spiked!  Does that make the title “Just Sayin’…V8B” more interesting?  Or amusing?

Feeling Honored!

Thank you Ruth and the California Watercolor Association for selecting my painting.  I am honored!  I feel like I have already earned two awards – one for getting into the show; two for being on the cover!



The post CWA Catalog Cover appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox – Watercolor Artist.

DIY Folded Envelope with Enclosure Card

I’m not sure what to call this little envelope and card. It’s not something that can be sent in the mail, but it’s such a sweet little envelope and coordinating card. I demonstrated how to make these at the Calligraphers’ Guild meeting earlier this week. They were a great hit, so I thought I’d share them here.

The card slips inside the folded envelope.

Start with a text weight paper that is 4 times as wide as it is tall. For the envelope above, I used a paper that was 4″ by 16″. For the envelope below I used a paper that was 2″ by 8″.

This is a piece of paste paper that I painted. The paper is 80# text weight Mohawk Superfine.

With text paper it is possible to fold either with or against the grain of the paper, however you will get the best results if you fold the paper with the grain. For information on paper grain and how to tell the direction of paper grain on a piece of paper, see my blog post: Understanding Paper Grain Direction.

Fold the paper in half as shown below.

The paste paper is now folded in half.

Open the paper back up and fold the left side of the paper to the center fold.

The left side of the paper is folded to the center.

Open up the paper and fold down the top left corner to the bottom of the closest vertical fold.

Why this photo came out black and white, I have no idea. But it’s the only one I have that shows the diagonal fold.

Now fold the right side of the paper to the center fold.

The right side of the paper is now folded to the center fold.

Now fold a diagonal fold between the center and the fold you just created. See the photo below.

Fold the right side down on a diagonal as shown above.

Now comes what seems to be a tricky part for people to understand. Look carefully at the photo below for help. Flip up the bottom of the paper below the diagonal fold you just made. You will end up only seeing the back of the paper once the fold is made. See the photo below.

The paper is folded up so that you now only see the wrong side of the paper to the right of the center fold in the photo above.

The right side of the paper is now folded over to the left so that you can now see the right side of the paper that you just folded up. You can also now see the diagonal fold that was folded before too.

When the right side of the paper is folded to the left, the diagonal fold and the previous fold up are now visible.

The last step is to tuck the left flap behind the diagonal fold. Now the envelope is done.

Once the flap on the left is folded behind the diagonal fold, the envelope is done.


The flap is now folded behind the diagonal. The envelope is finished.

Next cut a piece of paper to fit your square envelope. It should be twice as wide as it is tall. Then fold it in half to fit in the envelope.

I’ve chosen an orange paper for the envelope. It is folded in half and is ready to be decorated.

I like to decorate the paper I use for the enclosure card. For this envelope, I thought an orange card would coordinate nicely. I saved some scraps to the paste paper and decided to use that along with some black and gold paper to create an interesting design on the front of the card.

Here the card has been decorated.


The card is now in its matching envelope.

Here are some photos of the folded envelopes and cards that some of the calligraphers were working on during my demonstration and mini workshop. I thought they would inspire you to think of new ways to make your own enclosure card and folded envelope.









I know Halloween has already past, but this could be something to work on for next year.

This would be great for a Halloween card.


For this card I sewed a white insert inside and tied the threads on the outside.

Happy creating, Candy

Jupiter Cafe – Drawing Talent

Greetings!  Yesterday was such a nice fall day here in Talent, Oregon, that I had to go out and draw something.  In the afternoon, I gathered up my gear and out I went.

Naturally, when you’re out looking for a place to draw, it helps to have interesting lighting.  As I was walking down Talent Avenue, I spied the “Jupiter Cafe”.  The sun shown on the muted green paint out front and I had my place.

Jupiter Cafe is a small organic food and juice place.  I was looking at their website and they have quite the interesting menu.

I run by the building whenever I go downtown.  It has a happy, easy going feel that I like.  I sometimes see the owners; they’re always ready with a greeting or a wave.  In the summer time, they set up tables and a grill outside.

Oddly enough, the cafe is next door to the place that started this series, “Funky Fashions”.  You can see just a bit of “Jupiter Cafe” in the first painting.

What really caught my eye was the arrangement of the red chairs against the backdrop of the muted green building.  Some of the chairs were askew in a casual way.  Fun!

I don’t know how many more of these I’ll be able to do before the weather turns cold!  I was happy to take the opportunity yesterday.  Enjoy!

The post Jupiter Cafe – Drawing Talent appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox – Watercolor Artist.

Studio Snapshot

This past week I have been working on lids for two of my Earth Spirit Vessels. I sold Ocean Currents in July and have now been asked to make a lid for it. The same person who bought Ocean Currents is purchasing Forest Tapestry and I’m making a lid for it too. The lid for Forest Tapestry is a little easier because I have the vessel in front of me. Ocean Currents is on the east coast, so I’m just going by dimensions.

Earth Spirit Vessel Forest Tapestry with almost completed lid. I have a green stone bead yet to attach for the center of the lid.


Looking down on the almost completed lid for Earth Spirit Vessel Forest Tapestry.


Another view of Earth Spirit Vessel, Forest Tapestry, with its new lid.


Earth Spirit Vessel, Ocean Currents, made from 544 pieces of hand-folded paper was sold in July and now I’m making a lid for it.


This is the lid I made for Earth Spirit Vessel, Ocean Currents. It will be shipped to the east coast later this week to join its vessel.

Enjoy, Candy

November Value Study Month

Brain Spark!

Hi!  I had a flash of insight this morning.  I thought I’d make November “Value Study Month”.  Nah, maybe, ummm, YES!

Why  Value Studies

  • Painting them supports some of my personal artistic growth
  • I want to be able to see as an artist.  Oddly enough, you can learn to see values, shapes, lines and the other elements an artists needs to compose a painting.
  • I want to create stronger paintings in my “Drawing Talent” series.  I noticed that the paintings I’ve done so far do not have a lot of contrast.  They tend to be mid-range in value.
  • I want to be able to think with a brush.  The Masters such as Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso and Singer Sargent could create with their brushes.  This is a skill I value.

Plus, a good value study can be visual poetry.

Value Study = Light & Dark

Just to clarify, when I’m doing value studies, I’m focusing on the light and darks of my subject.  I’m not interested in color.

What’s exciting to me is that the light and dark pattern provides structure for a drawing or painting.  It holds things together.

Today’s value study is of my favorite napkin; it’s stiff enough to hold the folds.  Plus, a box for contrast and perspective practice!



The post November Value Study Month appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox – Watercolor Artist.

Curious Bear

Curious Bear ~ Sketchbooks are Valuable

Original Oil Painting by Stefan Baumann

12x 16 Oil on Oil Primed Linen Canvas Stretched on Wood Bars


3 1/4″ Omega dark Wood with gold inlay,


Lower Left – Baumann GV

Artist’s Comments

At our camp near Coulter Bay, on the boundary of the Teton National Park, there was a curious bear whose name is Number 399. When I captured my first glimpse of Number 399, I grabbed my sketchbook to make a quick sketch on paper knowing that I could later transfer it to canvas. The bear stood for a few moments among several fallen tree trunks before lofting away to another campsite. While he stood there, a burst of wind made his fur ripple like waves on water, back-blowing his thick winter coat.

The National Park Service gives bears numbers to identify each bear, keep track of their activity, and to monitor if any bears are interacting with park tourists in an unpleasant manner. Every bear has its own personality and interacts differently with members of the human race. Number 399 is a popular bear at the campground.

 (To read the full post story, click HERE


Stefan Baumann’s One Man Show,  Reverence~An Artist’s Tribute to Nature, Orland Art Center, September 2014
Currently held by the Artist



The post Curious Bear appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.

Sketchbooks, Valuable Artist’s Tool

                                                                                “Curious Bear” by Stefan Baumann


At our camp near Coulter Bay, on the boundary of the Teton National Park, there was a curious bear whose name is Number 399. When I captured my first glimpse of Number 399, I grabbed my sketchbook to make a quick sketch on paper knowing that I could later transfer it to canvas. The bear stood for a few moments among several fallen tree trunks before lofting away to another campsite. While he stood there, a burst of wind made his fur ripple like waves on water, back-blowing his thick winter coat.

The National Park Service gives bears numbers to identify each bear, keep track of their activity, and to monitor if any bears are interacting with park tourists in an unpleasant manner. Every bear has its own personality and interacts differently with members of the human race. Number 399 is a popular bear at the campground. Rangers and park visitors liked him because of his natural curiosity about people, and as a result, many park tourists enjoy seeing this beautiful four year old, honey-colored grizzly. He likes the attention and poses for pictures, and he has never been cited for unruly bear behavior, although his natural curiosity makes a few campers a little uncomfortable as he wanders from campsite to campsite.

The following day after I sketched  Number 399, I learned that a hunter, who had just killed an elk, shot the curious bear three times and killed him. The hunter apparently was worried that he might have to share his kill with the bear. This was a poignant reminder of the value of sketching in the moment as the opportunity presents itself.

Artists have not always carried their paints and canvas with them on their travels. The practice of painting on location is a relatively new concept in the history of painting. Many artists prefer the traditional method of sketching their experiences in a sketchbook. Artists can draw models or objects of interest, jot down notes and observations about a subject’s shapes, colors and unique features, or work on ideas for upcoming paintings in their sketchbooks. In this painting, “Curious Bear,” I worked from a sketch that I drew of the bear that visited our campsite. Having only seconds to jot down ideas, I worked on an idea for a painting from my sketchbook and notes the following day after I learned that the bear had been shot and killed. This is an example of why it is valuable that artists always have a sketchbook and a pencil or pen ready to sketch and write notes and observations.

I recommend using a book that has about 50 sheets of plain paper with a spiral spine, and urge artists to carry it with them everywhere and make a point to draw at least three drawings a day. It is not necessary to invest in expensive journals with upgraded paper and leather binding displaying the artist’s name in gold leaf. Although these can be impressive, the fancy journals are intimidating and rarely, if ever, used. Don’t think of your sketchbook as a holy relic. It is just a book with pieces of paper. The real value is not the book itself; it is using its pages to practice your sketching and to journal what you are thinking and feeling daily about the world around you, with the possibility of capturing a precious moment that later can become your next great painting.


Plein air and alla prima artist Stefan Baumann, host of the PBS painting series “The Grand View, America’s National Park through the eyes of an artist” and author of “Observations Of Art and Nature,” travels in his vintage travel trailer painting America’s western landscape. Baumann paints outdoors with oils and canvas capturing stunning vistas, wildlife, western landscapes, National Parks and still life, thrilling art collectors throughout the world. He has many international collectors acquiring his paintings as investments. His painting style is called Romantic Realism with Luminism, and the extraordinary way he captures the effect of light is a truly American style used to paint the Western landscape. He can be seen plein air painting in Yellowstone, Yosemite and in the Grand Canyon. Baumann’s “how to paint” DVDs filmed on location in the National Parks are the very best on the market.



The post Sketchbooks, Valuable Artist’s Tool appeared first on Stefan Baumann – The Grand View: Paintings by Stefan Baumann.